The Chicago Cubs have made no secret of their interest in trading aging left fielder Alfonso Soriano as they reshape the roster for the future. Although the veteran slugger seems an ideal fit for a designated hitter role, at least one proposed trade would keep him in the National League.
According to CBS Sports, the Cubs have discussed sending Soriano to the Phillies in exchange for perennial outfield prospect Domonic Brown. In that scenario—which appears unlikely to go through—Chicago would foot the bill for $26 million of the $36 million still owed to Soriano.
For all that both teams have a stake in getting a deal done here—Chicago in unloading Soriano, Philly in getting a productive bat to protect Ryan Howard—this proposal is not the move that either team needs. The trade would likely do more harm than good for both teams if it turned into reality.
The Phillies would get the better end of it, adding a still-effective slugger who would thrive in homer-friendly Citizens Bank Park.
However, they’d also be bringing in a 36-year-old outfielder with plenty of miles (and injuries) on his legs. For a roster that’s struggled to keep its big bats healthy in recent years, Soriano is a time bomb with a better-than-even chance of going off within the two years left on his current contract.
There’s even less to like about the trade from the Cubs’ point of view. The whole point of moving Soriano is to free up opportunities for long-term outfield prospects, and Brown is far from appealing as a future left-field solution.
Although he’s only 24, Brown has already had three major-league trials of 30-plus games. He hasn’t hit in any of them, topping out at a discouraging line of .245 batting/.333 on-base percentage/.391 slugging percentage.
Is it possible that Brown will put it together and start hitting major-league pitching? Absolutely. Is it likely that he’ll do it well enough to justify a starting spot as a corner outfielder? Not by a long shot.
If the Cubs are going to get only one player in return for Soriano, it ought to be somebody with a lot more potential than Brown has shown. Otherwise, Chicago would be far better off adding multiple prospects, improving the odds that one of them will develop into a worthwhile major leaguer.